A report Wednesday from Saskatoon Public Schools details what led up to the accidental drowning of a kindergarten student last September.
Five-year-old Ahmedsadiq Elmmi, who was officially diagnosed with autism a month earlier, died in the retention pond by École Dundonald School after morning recess on his first full day of kindergarten.
Superintendent of human resources Jaime Valentine carried out the investigation and spoke about the moments leading up to Elmmi going missing.
He said that the education assistant (EA) supervising Elmmi knew she had to hold his hand for the recess period.
Elmmi tried twice to pull away from the EA’s hand before she allowed the 5-year-old to let go and get in line for the playground’s slide.
“She saw Ahmed at the slide, she was then distracted by another student that she had previously worked with who came up to her and asked for a hug,” said Valentine. “That’s the moment the kindergarten teacher came over (and asked where the student was).”
Both the teacher and EA looked to the slide and couldn’t find Elmmi.
School staff was immediately notified that Elmmi was missing.
After morning recess, the boy was found in a retention pond nearby and pronounced dead.
Elmmi was placed on the Intensive Supports list
According to Saskatoon public schools, Elmmi’s parents informed the division in June he displayed “austistic symptoms,” but didn’t have a diagnosis of autism at that time.
The family was living in Prince Albert and expressed concerns about his safety to Dundonald staff.
“He was determined to ‘escape’ from any building that he was in and was fascinated by water and traffic,” the division report noted, adding the boy’s pre-school teacher in Prince Albert said he did not go outside without holding her hand.
In August 2017, Elmmi was medically diagnosed with autism, which allowed him to be placed on the Intensive Supports list at Dundonald School. It ensured an education assistant would be assigned to him one-on-one starting his first day of school.
The report states a team of school staff, along with a consultant from the division’s Student Support Services branch worked over the summer on a safety and education plan for Elmmi.
It listed a number of recommendations including developing stories to tell the boy about safety in and around the school, putting a bright vest on him at recess and teaching him to walk safely with an EA.
“The teacher had every intention of providing a vest,” Valentine said. “She believed she had a second vest available. As the students went out for recess, it was not there.”
Valentine wouldn’t say if the EA assigned to Elmmi was reprimanded for the incident, but did say she is still working with Saskatoon Public Schools.
Eight teacher supervisors, stationed at various locations, were scheduled at recess when Elmmi died on Sept. 11.
Additionally, the boy’s kindergarten teacher was out on unassigned supervision, while 12 other adults – a teacher and 11 educational assistants – were watching intensive support students like Elmmi.
-With files from Keenan Sorokan